As the old song goes, you have to "know when to fold 'em" and the Republicans in Congress did just that on Wednesday night, ending a 16-day battle over Obamacare and other budget issues in mere hours before the U.S. would have defaulted on its loans. Now that the government has been funded until early in 2014, it's imperative that the newest bipartisan commission assigned to produce a budget deal actually does that. In the past, these committees have been partisan jokes.
The new committee, headed by Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Rep. Paul Ryan, R-Wisc., needs to be different. We can't keep kicking the can down the road, funding the government for a short while, having frequent congressional budget battles and watching several hundred billion dollars of debt be accumulated every year. The total national debt is almost $17 trillion.
President Obama should realize that the national debt must stabilize. His leadership is needed on this issue.
Republicans in Congress, urged on by Tea Party favorites such as Sens. Ted Cruz and Mike Lee, initially picked a fight they could not win. They tried to defund Obamacare. After that failed, the GOP attempted to force concessions on the budget in order to get a deal. As the all-important debt default deadline approached, Republicans in Congress folded their cards and the government re-opened.
As of now, the government is funded until Jan. 15, 2014, and we won't default on our debt promises until Feb. 7, 2014. It would be an embarrassing farce if we find ourselves in another shutdown just after the new year. The Murray/Ryan committee is tasked with creating a bipartisan budget deal by December. Everyone knows that a deal needs to include a mix of entitlement cuts and tax increases. Everyone also knows that there are special interest groups -- on the right and the left -- who will fight both new taxes and entitlement cuts.
The blame for the debt is bipartisan. It is the responsibility of our national legislators to reach a bipartisan budget deal. If they can't they should be replaced a year from now.